How to Train a Puppy Not to Bite: Nip the Biting Habit in the Bud!

how to stop a puppy from biting

If your puppy bites, it can be an immediate cause for concern. You might be worried about what your future will hold and whether or not you’ll be able to take control of the situation. 

Don’t panic. 

I spent many years around biting puppies and it’s completely normal. The main thing to remember is to remain calm, redirect their attention, and don’t let it get out of control. 

As your puppy ages, they’ll learn what is acceptable and what is not and they won’t continue to do something that makes you upset. 

In this guide, I’ll cover reasons for puppy biting and what you can do to limit their biting behavior. 

How to Prevent a Puppy Biting

how to train a puppy not to bite

First and foremost, let’s create a verbal separation between the words “bite” and “mouth/nip” because there is a big difference. Puppies tend to nip because that’s how they play with their littermates, and it’s part of their natural instinct.

But there’s a fine line between a puppy biting and a puppy nipping. Either way, you can use these tips to encourage positive behavior from your new puppy.

Train Dogs Early On

Almost 45 million people in the US are the victims of dog bites each year. This is why it’s so important to encourage gentle play from day one. When the bad behavior begins, it’s important that you address the bad habits right away so they never think it’s okay. 

We’ve all been around dogs that get out of control, and most of the time, it’s because their owner allows it. Don’t allow it, and it won’t happen. 

Puppies learn bite inhibition in an environment that provokes it. While it might be okay when they’re little, as they get their adult teeth, you’ll quickly notice that what was once rough housing has now become violence. 

Offer Alternatives

If your puppy bites, it’s time to offer alternatives like a durable chew toy or something squishy that they can toss around. Chew toys will allow them to use that energy during a play session, and it will help them associate what they can and cannot be rough with.

No Biting During Playtime

how to train a puppy not to bite

It drives me insane when dog parents don’t teach bite inhibition. It’s not okay for your puppy to chew on your arms, legs, or any part of your body, so don’t allow it to happen. Every dog gets a little wound up from time to time and loses control. It happens. 

When your puppy’s mouthing on you, let them know about it. Let out a high-pitched yelp to let them know they hurt you. This is a great way of teaching your puppy empathy, and your body language will help teach your puppy not to bite.

Manage Nipping By Calming and Redirecting

Redirection is part of the training process, and while puppies’ mouths are a means of play, they need to understand that you don’t like that kind of play. Even if you’re okay with it, you need to keep in mind that not everyone will be. 

If you have a guest in your home and your puppy bites them, no matter how gentle it is, calmly remove them from the situation and take them to a different room. In there, you can calmly use words that tell them that they did wrong. 

Show them their chew toy and tell them that they play with this. When you return them to the room, have the person they bit calmly pet them and interact, showing your puppy that this is how you’re supposed to interact with strangers. 

Socialization Helps in Calming Down Puppies

how to get a puppy to stop biting

A huge part of bite inhibition training is acclimating your puppy to a variety of situations. As dog owners, socialization is the key to developing a balanced temperament. This is how your puppy learns what is completely normal and what is not. 

For example, some puppies will react differently to children than others. By exposing your dog to a young child early in their life, they’ll realize that it’s okay and they don’t need to be aggressive or scared. 

The same goes for other dogs. By bringing your puppy around other dogs in a safe environment, you can help them learn how to manage their emotions and interact appropriately. 

Use Clicker Training Method 

My mother used clicker training in her obedience training business and it was the foundation of her puppy class. This type of training helps with your dog’s ability to understand actions and reactions. 

The clicker is associated with consistency which means that every single time they hear that click, it means they’ve done something right and rewards are coming. 

The action is good behavior, and the reaction is a treat. This reinforces the connection between the click and the reward, which helps with learned bite inhibition. 

Try Obedience Training 

If all else fails, training classes are an option. Don’t think of this as a failure on your part. Training a dog to play gently and not bite isn’t always easy, and some puppies are more difficult than others. It’s important that you get your puppy to stop biting before they become an adult. 

A well-qualified obedience trainer will treat your puppy well and will communicate everything with you so you have nothing to worry about.

Precautionary Measures to Take

With bite inhibition, the responsibility often boils down to you. Your biting puppy doesn’t understand that what they’re doing is wrong unless you make it known. Here are some things you can do to help if your puppy bites. 

Avoid Things That Entice Nipping

Certain things encourage rough play, and if you’re trying to prevent your puppy from biting, you’ll want to avoid them or redirect them. 

Teething is one of those things you can’t control. Their puppy teeth are falling out, and this can cause discomfort. As a result, they may chew and bite to reduce the soreness. 

Make sure you’re providing plenty of things to help with the biting and that they always have a toy to chew nearby when they get the urge. 

Encourage Gentle Play

how to stop puppies from biting

There’s a time for rough and a time for gentle play. Save the tug of war for when you’re trying to tucker out your dog before bed. Most of the time, puppies play because we encourage it, and the worst time to get them overly excited is when they’re already stimulated. 

This can happen a lot when you have company in your home, and there is a lot going on. This can be overwhelming, and if you add other puppies into the mix, you can understand why your puppy is roughhousing. 

Encourage your pup so gentle play continues while you have visitors to help your puppy learn that they need to behave when you have guests. This applies to outdoor time as well. Puppies may immediately associate people outside as a reason to go crazy and potentially chase after someone outside the yard. 

Don’t allow it to happen. Control your pup, teach them to stay in the yard, and encourage calm play with guests and strangers. 

Stay Calm and Still 

Did the puppy bite a human family member? You have only a short moment to react, but how you react will be incredibly important. Stay calm, stop play, and address the situation right away. 

In most cases, the bite was an accident, but that doesn’t mean you can dismiss it. Turn quietly to your puppy and let them know that what they did was wrong. Try not to lose your temper, but you still need to scold them in a stern and serious voice. 

If you have an area in the home dedicated to them, whether it’s their crate or a bed, tell them to go to that area for a time out. 

No Physical Punishment

I never recommend physical punishment because it doesn’t solve the problem. By hitting your dog, all you’re doing is reinforcing the fact that violence follows violence. The redirection method works best, but if it’s already too late, it’s best to scold them and send them for a time-out. 

What Exactly is “Mouthing”? 

puppy biting

As I mentioned, mouthing and biting are two different things. Adult dogs don’t do this quite as much as puppies, but it’s their way of exploring and understanding the world around them. 

They’re used to using their mouths with other puppies, whether it’s a play session or if they’re playing. It’s rooted in their ability to explore and communicate. 

The difference is that human skin can’t handle most dog teeth, so you need to discourage your puppy from biting because it will hurt someone. 

When they “mouth,” they might chew or nip on objects to taste and smell them. If they mouth gently, it’s okay. Just make sure that mouthing doesn’t escalate into something more serious. Make sure you encourage your dog to play gently, take treats gently, and be calm when guests are in your home. 

Signs When Mouthing Changes to Aggressiveness

So, where do you draw the line with nipping and biting? Does your puppy exhibit any of the following behaviors along with mouthing? 

  • Growling
  • Backing up
  • Raising their rear into the air
  • Scratching
  • Dog whining

If they do any of these things, it can be a sign that their mouthing stems from a place of aggression rather than play. At this point, it may make sense to bring in a trained professional to help you teach your puppy not to bite and how to get the best behavior out of them

Benefits of Bite Inhibition Training in Puppies

how to get a dog to stop biting

It’s never too early to help your puppy learn bite inhibition. This is where many dogs begin to understand the impact of their bite and what biting means to humans. Here are some of the benefits of this training. 

Reduced Risk of Injury

You never want to see your puppy hurt somebody. The dog bite laws are very clear, and even vaccinated adult dogs can quickly find themselves in a bad situation if they’re caught biting someone and hurting them. 

By starting young and training them right away, you’re preventing issues from occurring down the road that could get your furry friend taken away from you. 

Safer Play and Interaction

Puppies can be unpredictable at times, and you don’t always know how they’re going to interact with the other dog, neighbor, cat, or anything for that matter. You don’t know unless you expose them to it. 

When you teach your puppy not to bite, you’re removing one element that could go wrong when you eventually bring your pup around adult dogs and other people. 

Keep in mind the impact that others will have on your dog as well. Children have a tendency to play rough and get your dog worked up. How will they react to this situation? With proper bite inhibition training, they’ll understand that they can play but shouldn’t cross that line. 

Effective Communication

Every interaction is a puppy class, and you’re the teacher – how do you plan to educate your dog? Most dogs communicate using their mouths in a different way than we do, and proper training teaches them that a good dog doesn’t bite. Mouthing is okay, and gentle nipping is okay, but they have to know when to stop. 

This training doesn’t discourage their instincts but instead teaches them to control their bite and only use it when necessary. Make sure to keep your dog leashed when out in public and gradually increase their interaction as they become more calm. 

Improved Human Interactions

How quickly do friends and family members turn on you when your dog’s behavior takes a turn for the worst? Pretty quick, right? 

I’ve been there, and it’s never a good thing. There’s no excuse, and when you’re on the receiving end, you can understand why someone would be upset. It’s important to remain consistent, teach your puppy that it’s wrong, and punish them using the right methods like time out and redirection. 

Properly trained puppies are more enjoyable to be around, and people will have a better time at your home if they know they don’t have to worry about your dog becoming violent towards them, chewing on them, or being too rough with their children. 

FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about biting puppies. 

Where Can I Get Help for a Puppy That Becomes Aggressive?

There are plenty of resources to help train your puppy. I recommend looking in your local area for a highly recommended obedience trainer. You want to make sure to find one that focuses specifically on dogs and issues with chewing and biting. 

Much of the time, biting concerns that don’t seem to go away stem from trauma and anxiety. Your pup may have had some sort of abuse issues in the past, and you may not have been made aware of it. 

What to Do If My Puppy Bites Me?

If your puppy bites you, don’t panic. I recommend letting out a high-pitched “ow” to make sure they know it’s time to stop and then put them in a time-out in a consistent place. Never continue playing when your puppy bites you because it will encourage this type of behavior. 

Why Do Puppies Bite?

Puppies bite for a number of reasons, including overstimulation, curiosity, anxiety, fear, and aggression. In my opinion, most puppies are playing when they bite, and they simply haven’t realized that they can’t do that anymore because it will hurt the person. 

If you train them from an early age, they’ll be completely discouraged from biting you and it will only help you develop a strong bond. 

Final Thought

Now you know how to train a puppy not to bite, and I highly encourage you to reinforce good behavior when challenging your puppy to stop biting. You don’t want their energetic nature to get out of control and scare friends and family away because they’re concerned about getting bit. Train your puppy now so you don’t have to worry later. Following these tips will help. Best of luck! 

Coty Perry
Meet Coty, a passionate writer residing near Scranton, Pennsylvania. An avid animal lover, he grew up around various dogs, learning valuable lessons about responsible pet ownership. Coty believes in raising awareness about animal rights and strives to improve the lives of pets everywhere. With two adorable cats, Cozmo and Marley, he experiences the joy of having "dog-like" feline companions. Coty's favorite animal, the capybara, holds a special place in his heart due to its gentle nature. With seven years of writing experience and contributions to reputable websites, he's excited to share his expertise in dog training and health with our readers.

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